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Translations of my books

After the German translation of The Selfish Gene was published, I received an enthusiastic letter from a lady in Germany, which said that the translation was so brilliant, it was as though the translator and author were 'twin souls'. Shortly thereafter, I met the distinguished Swiss (German) ethologist Hans Kummer, and he told me that if ever I needed a good German translator I should try to get Karin de Sousa Ferreira. I went back to Das egoistische Gen and looked up the name of my 'twin soul'. Sure enough, it was indeed Karin de Sousa Ferreira (yes, she probably married a Portuguese). I immediately asked that she should be engaged to translate The Blind Watchmaker, and I am happy to say that she agreed to come out of retirement in order to do so.

I have not always been so fortunate. I have received two letters about one particular translation of The God Delusion (I won't mention which language), which said almost exactly the same thing as each other. Both letters said that the translator might as well have been a computer, had no idea of English idioms, even referred to a book called 'Guide to the Galaxy' written by somebody called 'Hitch-hiker'. I have received a similar criticism of a different language translation of The God Delusion.

What to do about it, and how to avoid the same thing happening in the future? It occurs to me that readers of this website probably include native speakers of most of the major languages. I wonder whether I could ask you to contribute criticisms, positive (as if for Karin de Sousa Ferreira) and negative, about translations of any of my books into your language.

It is important to mention the exact date and publisher of the particular edition you are looking at. In some cases more than one translation of a particular book has been published (e.g. Portuguese translations of some of my books have been published separately in Brazil and Portugal), and sometimes the same publisher has issued more than one edition, so it is possible that later editions have corrected earlier bad translations.

Thank you very much




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